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Storytime: The Golf Pro, The Carpetbagger and The Slush Fund

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Randy Wilson


In the Olden Times, (or “The Good Old Days" for those immune to PC brainwashing) Dad was the GCS at a wonderful muni* outside Atlanta.

*Note:  Although Brad Klein has called for a Social Justice Moratorium on the word “muni”, it is not a derogatory term; it simply means a municipal golf facility.  Those of us who actually worked on a muni are proud of it, much more so than, say, a CCFAD.

The muni in our story was a Dick Wilson layout called “Mystery Valley” and it became very popular after Dad finished resurrecting it.  This was in the era of Arnie, Jack and Lee, when golf was appropriately sized and priced for sustainability.   It was prior to the gold rush of golf launched by a foundation, a horde of rabid real estate developers and the legions of propaganda slingers who lived in the great towers of the concrete canyons known as Madison.

The “Good Old Days” are often referred to as Toxic Nostalgia by those trained in academic historical revisionism.  Perpetrators of this art like to say things like “The good old days weren’t all that good” just before they cite examples, like how North Viet Nam defeated us and the British at Waterloo, or how great lightweight fairway mowers are now, versus the Jacobsen F-10.  I have encountered devout, dedicated historical revisionists who are quite expert at deflating mythic “Good Old Days” beliefs, even though they weren’t on the planet during the period in question.  

These folks are skilled in “Negative Nostalgia”, a vicious counter-measure tactic they employ whenever some old geezer goes glassy-eyed and begins a sentence with “Back in my . . . “

NEGATIVE NOSTALGIA:  the rewriting of our past to be miserable and broken, because it creates continuity with our present”

This is not a new practice, it happens to every generation; it’s just harsher now, due to the political polarity inflicted on the population.  Now that you have been sufficiently immunized against anti-Good Old Days Negative Nostalgia, here is the promised Storytime.

Once upon a time, there lived a Co-Cola machine, in a tiny room betwixt Dad’s office and the tool room . . . in the barn.  (I know, that’s two infractions in the same sentence, a trademark thingy and the use of the word "barn", a term that triggers golf's Social Injustice Inquisitors.)  But in fairness, it actually was a barn--and down here in the South, we rarely said Coke and while we’re at it, this was before we learned that carbonated water dosed with coal tar and 8 tablespoons of sugar was less than optimum for good brain and organ operations.photodune-1359464-vintage-soda-machine-xl.thumb.jpg.c51b9ed47b6af5c76c9c843568fcfcb3.jpg

Dad had the key to this machine, and he filled it regularly, with those 6.5 oz. bottles of cold drinks.  He kept the price at a quarter and the crew loved it.  Even the clubhouse cart boys came down to purchase cold drinks at our barn machine, because the Golf Pro charged double.  (Yes, I know, the term "cart" is another SJI infraction.)  Sorry, but if it can’t merge on I-285 and survive, it’s not a car.

As things are wont to happen in Good Old Days stories, evil entered our little paradise, in the form of greed.  In those days, Dad collected the machine's money whenever there was sufficient accumulation and took the whole crew to Granny’s Kitchen . . . usually on a Friday.  Granny’s was an all you could eat place, where, for $2.50, we stuffed all sorts of Southern-prepared delights down our neck.  Vegetables of every sort, fried chicken, cobbler and every so often, chicken-fried steak . . . then we washed it down with iced tea and waddled back to the truck.  It helped to lie in a horizontal position on the return trip, so the truck bed was valuable real estate. 

Also, note that I said “Iced Tea”, not “Sweet Tea”, that horrible concoction that is often considered Southern.  I don’t know where it came from, but it showed up about the same time as the big corporations started shoving corn syrup down our collective craws in amounts large enough to trigger diabetic comas.  ’94, I think.

Anyway, the Golf Pro got wind of Dad’s Co-Cola machine and since he had a contract with the county that said he got 100% of the golf carts and concessions, the Golf Pro howled in protest.  Apparently he wanted that last few cents the crew had squirreled away and within hours, an administrative official showed up.  His title was Deputy Deputy Deputy Director of Parks, (DDDDP) and he ranted and railed and declared Dad’s Co-Cola machine a “Slush Fund”.  This was during Watergate, so terms like “Slush Fund” were frightening.

Dad’s machine was confiscated and the Golf Pro, in true Carpetbagger fashion, entered into some kind of dark profit-sharing deal with the DDDDP.  A new machine appeared, from a supplier of sugared coal tar not even native to Atlanta, and it was met with resistance. Not only was the machine loaded with cans instead of glass bottles, it was priced at twice the previous rate of bubbly coal tar.

After a couple of weeks, the new machine had earned nothing.  The County Carpetbagger appeared and accused Dad of intimidating the crew into boycotting the new machine, even suggesting that Dad was illegally selling contraband cold drink bottles from a cooler in his office.  Determined to prime the pump, in full view of the crew, the DDDDP approached the new machine and learned the real reason the boycott was so effective. 

DDDDP defiantly stormed into the little room and rammed the first of two quarters into the slot.  The second quarter never made it, because the sizzling electric shock DDDDP received upon touching the metal coin slot was so fierce that he shrieked, contorted into the leaping fetal position and slipped on the wet concrete floor.  (The new machine leaked a little.)

Accusations flew and when the machine’s technician arrived to investigate, it was determined that tampering had occurred with the electrical supply.  The machine remained, and to my knowledge, never once sold a drink to the crew . . . only to newly minted sales reps.  (Experienced sales reps came prepared with rubber boots and gloves, because after all, this was the same course where a crew worker attempted to put a chemical rep into a box.)

The Friday pilgrimage to Granny’s Kitchen continued, due to Dad’s office cooler, a loyal crew, and some mysterious and diabolical machine saboteur--because after all, these truly were The Good Old Days. 

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